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Building the Cloud: Notes on Apache CloudStack (incubating)

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Build a Cloud Day Interview with Erica Brescia of BitRock

build-a-cloud-dayAs we get ready for a trio of Build a Cloud Days, I thought it’d be good to post some pre-event interviews with speakers who will be appearing at one or more events.

Our next interviewee is Erica Brescia, who will be speaking on October 1st at the Build a Cloud Day ahead of CloudCon Expo. Seats are still available for this event, but be sure to sign up today!

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background, and your current job?

Erica Brescia: I’m the CEO of BitRock, the company behind BitNami. Our mission is to make it as easy as possible to deploy and manage web applications across native, virtual and cloud environments. We offer a library of ready-to-run open source application packages that have been used by millions all over the world.

Q: What will you be speaking about at Build a Cloud Day?

Erica Brescia: I’m going to be talking about application deployment in the cloud. More specifically, I’ll talk about the BitNami library and explore some of the free and for pay options for getting a library of apps that can be deployed on your cloud in one click.

Q: What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to companies starting to adopt IaaS and/or PaaS solutions?

Erica Brescia: Stay focused on real user requirements. The approach with the greatest probability of success is the one that requires the least amount of change to user behavior. If you can design your cloud implementation to fit into existing business processes, it will be much easier to get users on board – especially if you can automate manual processes and improve the speed to delivery to make their lives easier.

Q: A big topic in cloud computing right now is the “open” cloud. Opinions differ, though, on what “open” is. What do you think an “open” cloud looks like, and how important is it that a company or organizatino has an “open” cloud?

Erica Brescia: An open cloud is one that doesn’t lock you into certain technologies. By building on top of cloud platforms that are open source, you will gain greater long term flexibility in terms of who and how much you pay for your cloud platform. For companies who want to maintain as much flexibility as possible and avoid vendor lock-in, building on an open source platform can be an important consideration.

When building out new deployments, companies should consider how much they are depending on specific cloud services (in the case of public clouds) and how difficult it will be to move away from those services if that becomes desirable in the future. In most cases, if you are able to focus on the top levels of the stack, then you can take advantage of the leading public cloud platforms aggressive pricing and agility while making it relatively simple to migrate workloads to other platforms if needed.

Q: Cloud technologies are still in early stages, what predictions do you have for the industry over the next five years?

Erica Brescia: I’m sure everyone will say consolidation and standardization in reply to this question, and I agree with both. Aside from that, I believe that we will see Google and Microsoft emerge as true competitors to Amazon in the public cloud space. I also believe that we will see a new wave of adoption from mainstream users. These users will be moving away from either local servers or traditional hosting providers en masse due to the flexibility that the cloud can offer them. Platforms like BitNami will help to drive this adoption my significantly lowering the barrier to cloud adoption.

Q: What’s the biggest opportunity you see around IaaS and PaaS technologies for companies that are adopting these technologies?

Erica Brescia: Agility. A lot of the current discussion around the cloud focuses on The capex vs opex conversation (for public clouds) and features like auto-scaling, but at the end of the day, the biggest benefit for many users is agility. The cloud provides tools and infrastructure that allows users to deploy, resize, copy, kill servers and more in just a few mouse clicks and often for just cents an hour. This allows for a range of use cases that just weren’t possible in a pre-cloud environment.

For example, at BitNami, we were able to move our whole build-test cycle for the vast library of BitNami Stacks that we maintain to the cloud and run the processes in parallel on much faster machines. This cut our process down from 18 hours to around 1.5 hours - and we only pay for the servers when we are using them. We just couldn’t have done this easily in the pre-cloud world.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you see around these technologies?

Erica Brescia: Because these technologies are really still in their infancy, complete platforms don’t yet exist. To build a truly complete cloud platform, there is still a lot of piecing together and heavy lifting that has to be done. It is easy to get caught up in all of the hype around the cloud, but what the marketing says and what people are actually doing is still worlds apart. The vendors in the space still have a long way to go to be able to provide complete solutions that can be rolled out in a much shorter time frame. For now, those who want to build their own cloud platforms will have to choose best of breed solutions from different vendors and then spend a lot of time (and money) piecing them together. However, there are plenty of areas that can be adopted piecemeal right away and provide instant benefit, especially if focused in the upper areas of the stack.

Q: Anything else to share?

Erica Brescia: From the BitNami perspective, we have a lot of business end users and developers, but we are constantly surprised by the number of people inside companies with big IT organizations that use AWS to bypass internal limitations and red tape and get things done. It is amazing to see such a disconnect and we believe it to be underreported.

Thanks, Erica for responding to our questions. You can catch Erica’s talk in San Francisco, on October 1st. Don’t miss it!

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Joe Brockmeier, known to many as "Zonker," is a member of the CloudStack evangelism team at Citrix. Prior to joining Citrix, Joe worked with Novell as the openSUSE community manager, and as Editor-in-Chief of Linux Magazine. He's also worked as a freelance technology journalist, and has written for LWN, NetworkWorld, ReadWriteWeb, and many other publications.
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Guest Saturday, 19 July 2014


Citrix supports the open source community via developer support and evangeslism. We have a number of developers and evangelists that participate actively in the open source community in Apache Cloudstack, OpenDaylight, Xen Project and XenServer. We also conduct educational activities via the Build A Cloud events held all over the world.